Upper body musculoskeletal disorders among Australian occupational therapy Students

Smith, Derek R., Leggat, Peter A., and Clark, Michele (2006) Upper body musculoskeletal disorders among Australian occupational therapy Students. British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 69 (8). pp. 365-372.

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Although upper body musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) represent an increasingly important issue for university students, few if any studies have targeted the occupational therapy faculty. Given this dearth of information, it was considered necessary to investigate a cross-section of Australian occupational therapy students by means of an established questionnaire survey. Completed replies were obtained from 95.7%, 100% and 97.7% (n = 44, 55 and 48) of students in the first, second and fourth years of a large occupational therapy school in northern Queensland, Australia.

The 12-month period prevalence of MSDs was as follows: neck (67.4%), shoulder (46.3%) and upper back (39.5%). Three-quarters of all students (75.5%) reported an MSD occurring in at least one of these body regions. Over half (56.5%) reported an MSD over 2 days' duration in the past year. Almost 40% (39.5%) reported an MSD that had affected their daily life, while one-quarter (25.2%) needed some type of treatment.

Logistic regression indicated that students aged over 21 years were almost four times more likely to report shoulder-related MSD (OR 3.7, 95%CI: 1.4-10.2). Year of study in the occupational therapy course was another important MSD correlate, with adjusted odds ratios ranging from 3.3 at the upper back (OR 3.3, 95%CI: 1.2-9.6) to 10.9 at the neck (OR 10.9, 95%CI: 3.2-43.8). Computer usage also incurred a certain degree of risk, with students who spent over 5 hours per week on the computer having an increased risk of MSD at the neck (OR 5.0, 95%CI: 1.3-21.5) and shoulder (OR 4.7, 95%CI: 1.4-18.3).

Overall, this study suggests that Australian occupational therapy students have a large burden from MSDs in the upper body region, even more so than other student groups and some working populations. Since the distribution of MSD risk is not uniform among them, interventions to help reduce these conditions need to be carefully targeted. Further longitudinal investigations would also be useful in determining the mechanisms and contributory factors for MSDs among this unique student population.

Item ID: 4618
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1477-6006
Keywords: muscloskepetal disorders; occupational therapy students
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Reproduced with permission from College of Occupational Therapists Ltd. © College of Occupational Therapists Ltd

Date Deposited: 11 Sep 2009 04:28
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111705 Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety @ 100%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9205 Specific Population Health (excl. Indigenous Health) > 920504 Occupational Health @ 100%
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